BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 3RD MAY, 2014
WEST HAM UNITED 2(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Kane (o.g.), 27
Referee:- Phil Dowd
Assistants:- Mr. S. Ledger & Mr. M. Perry
Fourth official:- Mr. M. Jones
West Ham (4-4-1-1):- Adrian; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney; Downing, Noble, Diame, Taylor; Nolan (Capt.) (sub Jarvis, 88); Carroll (sub C. Cole, 84)
Subs not used:- Jaaskelainen; Armero, Collins; Nocerino; Vaz Te
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Kaboul, Rose; Lennon, Paulinho ( sub Sandro, 65), Sigurdsson (sub Soldado, 66), Eriksen; Kane (sub Chiriches, 28, Adebayor
Subs not used:- Friedel; Fryers; Bentaleb, Pritchard
Booked:- Naughton (foul on Taylor), Dawson (foul on Noble), Soldado (foul on Demel), Sandro (foul on Noble)
Sent off (24 mins):- Kaboul (preventing goal-scoring opportunity)
Utter disgrace, and the unthinkable happened too.
The unthinkable happened today at Upton Park. West Ham beat Spurs for the third time in a season for the first time in history. Andy Carroll nearly scored his first home goal for a year, but it was actually credited to Harry Kane, whose unfortunate headed touch beat Hugo Lloris. Spurs have failed to score against lowly West Ham in their two Premier League games this season.
The unthinkable also happened at Old Trafford today, where Sunderland won, and all but secured their Premier League survival. The unthinkable element of that result means that despite their best efforts today to throw away a place in Europe, Spurs need only one point at home to Aston Villa next week to qualify for the Europa League. Mind you, on the form shown today, Spurs are more than capable of throwing away that last chance. Villa won today too, so they are safe for another season.
What was not unthinkable, but what was an utter disgrace was the simply gutless, inept and quite frankly pathetic performance of our team in front of a full contingent of away supporters who have to bear the loss to such a moderate West Ham side, and suffer the gloating of their supporters. In theory, West Ham could yet escape relegation thanks to the six points surrendered to them this season by Tottenham Hotspur, such a proud football name, with a proud history, but with a set of players who, with one very notable exception (The magnificent Hugo Lloris), seem to have very little grasp of the meaning of this game, and the need to take all three points.
Once again, Tim Sherwood's midfield selection was surely naive in the extreme, with Sigurdsson and Paulinho in the central midfield positions. Sandro was on the bench, and the away fans(me included) were baying for his insertion even before the first half ended.
I do not offer as an excuse the fact that we played three quarters of the game with ten men, after Younes Kaboul was sent off for "preventing a goal-scoring opportunity". Bearing in mind his victim was Stewart Downing, that statement would also be unthinkable, were it not for the fact that Downing subsequently scored with a shot that Adebayor and Paulinho allowed to pass through their part of the wall. That was a disgrace.
Most of you will have watched the game, perhaps from behind the sofa, and you certainly will not want a blow by blow account of this game. I can't offer that anyway, as to be honest, I was so cheesed off with my team that I didn't make many notes. There was little to record anyway.
What was evident from the outset was that Kevin Nolan often got ahead of Carroll, obviously hoping to seize upon a knock-down or a headed ball. Spurs had the centre-backs to nullify Carroll, surely, but as a team, they didn't have the necessary commitment to close down, chase, move with pace or incisiveness to prevent West Ham causing us a number of problems at the back. Mind you, we are also the architects of our own failure too often when conceding silly free kicks in dangerous areas.
Adebayor should have given us a lead after only four minutes, following a good move started by Harry Kane down the right, passing down the line to Sigurdsson. The move continued through Eriksen, and Adebayor was presented with a golden chance in front of goal, which he rather tamely aimed straight at the grateful Adrian. That was probably our best chance, and almost our last convincing chance of the game.
Noble hit a low free kick from the left, which Carroll hit, and from which he won a corner. After 15 minutes, a Paulinho header fell into Adrain's hands after Naughton's cross.
After 23 minutes, Danny Rose was caught out after a West Ham break from their half. This was not the first time that Rose has been caught on the hop in this way. Rose's error allowed Downing to advance upon the Spurs area, and as he approached, Kaboul basically barged him, conceding a free kick. It took quite a while for the officials to decide upon the course of action, but referee Phil Dowd eventually showed Kaboul the red card. Without the benefit of TV replays from my position, I thought there was a defender to one side of Kaboul, and on that basis, perhaps the decision was harsh.
Phil Dowd was subsequently subject to ritual abuse from the away fans ("You're too fat to referee"), who had forgotten that until our recent thrashing at Anfield, Spurs had won seven consecutive games with Mr. Dowd in charge. He wasn't our friend today though, and in the latter stages of the game turned down a handball appeal.
Hugo Lloris made a great save from Carroll's shot pushing the ball around his top right corner. Lloris was almost the only player worth his salt today, and we will surely be lucky to retain his services next season.
From the West Ham corner though, Carroll was happy to celebrate in front of the Spurs fans, as his header was deflected off Harry Kane's head over Lloris. It seems that it will go down as an own goal.
Harry Kane was sacrificed, so that we could get Chiriches on. I thought Kane was unlucky, because he had shown more enterprise than had Adebayor in the early stages. I didn't see anything from Adebayor later either to convince me he was better.
Lloris made another good save, diving low to his left to prevent Matt Taylor from scoring, but after Dawson was booked for a foul on Noble outside the area, that man Downing was allowed to score through the wall. I've mentioned Adebayor and Paulinho's cowardice. They just didn't do their job of blocking the ball, but both turned sideways, allowing the ball to pass.
So, 2-0 down and a man down at half-time, and there wasn't much hope of a come-back, was there. A draw would have given us hopes of three points next week to secure sixth place, but events have overtaken us, and one point will now be enough.
I have no decent notes from the second half. Early on Hugo Lloris was again the hero, with a couple of saves. Spurs huffed and puffed, but generally failed to threaten Adrian in the West Ham goal. He dropped an Eriksen cross/shot from a sharp angle, and Danny Rose had a late shot on target. ( I was out of the ground by this time)
Sherwood brought on Sandro for Paulinho and Soldado for Sigurdsson, but any shots we did muster were well of target. Soldado had one of these, and Lennon had another.
Paulinho was a great disappointment for me. He's trying too many clever flicks, which might come off when he's playing with his Brazilian team-mates, but they don't work in the nitty gritty of Premier League football, especially in a Derby game.
Promising moves often fizzled out because Spurs allowed their opponents to catch them up, or close them down. Eriksen was as guilty of this as his colleagues.
I'd like to give some credit (and this is a genuine comment) to Kyle Naughton, who often did defend well, and often did offer something different in attack.
However, the team, and its management, and leadership needs a radical overhaul for next season. Once again, I have seriously considered the question of whether or not to renew my season ticket. This has happened too many times this season for my liking, usually after those top four hammerings, and definitely after those unthinkable defeats to West Ham.
I'll probably give it one more season, but if there is no improvement, I'm out.
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